(WTTW News)

Cook County Jail provides medications for opioid use disorder to incarcerated people. Where frustration comes from advocates — and local officials — is the limitations of the Illinois Department of Corrections’ medication programming in prisons.

Attendees gather around the drawings of five Prison+Neighborhood Arts/Education Project participants. The organization had a grand opening of its gallery and community space, Walls Turned Sideways, 2717 W. Madison St., on Jan. 27, 2024. (Blair Paddock / WTTW News)

The West Side gallery is in line with work the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project has been doing for over a decade: connecting teaching artists and scholars to incarcerated students through classes, workshops and lectures.

(WTTW News)

The Illinois Department of Corrections has awarded a new contract to the controversial Wexford Health Sources, the same private health care provider that’s been handling medical care in the state’s prison system since 2011.

Jimmy Soto and his sister, Pilar More, look at family photos. (WTTW News)

In December, Jimmy Soto saw the sunrise over Lake Michigan for the first time in 42 years. He is now discovering a completely different world from the one he left.

(Credit: Cottonbro Studio via Pexels)

The Illinois secretary of state’s office, which oversees a number of library grant programs, said the new law does apply to prison libraries as they are eligible for grants.

The Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center in Benton, Illinois, was called a “facility in crisis” by state auditors last year. (Julia Rendleman for ProPublica)

The Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center abruptly closed on Dec. 31. The judge who ordered the closure said staffing shortages made it difficult to meet state standards for caring for youth in custody.

In a selfie shared with Capitol News Illinois, Charles Collins prepares for his first Christmas at home in 14 years. (Photo submitted)

Charles Collins, 49, was sentenced to life in prison without parole in relation to a 2010 charge for cocaine possession with intent to sell. It was his third felony, making him eligible for an enhanced sentence under the state’s habitual criminal, or “three-strikes,” law.

Darien Harris is seen in a family photo. (Credit: Harris Family / Exonerated Project)

Darien Harris had served more than 12 years of his 76-year sentence before prosecutors decided not to move forward with their case and dropped the charges against him on Tuesday.


Last week, the Northwestern Prison Education Program graduated its first cohort of students. The graduates are the first in the country to earn bachelor’s degrees from a top 10 university while incarcerated.

U.S. Supreme Court building. (Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)

The inmate, Michael Johnson, argued that the deprivation of yard time – in the absence of a true security justification – violated the Constitution’s ban on cruel and inhumane punishment.

A 2022 state audit identified the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center in Benton, Illinois, as a “facility in crisis.” (Julia Rendleman for ProPublica)

State audits point to troubling conditions in juvenile detention centers, but no agency has strong enough oversight to bring about change.

(WTTW News)

More than 3,300 wrongfully convicted people have been exonerated in the U.S. since 1989, according to the University of Michigan’s National Registry of Exonerations. That time on the inside adds up to more than 30,000 years unjustly spent in prison for many of those people.

Richard Dyches is pictured in the Dixon Correctional Center in October 2023. (WTTW News)

For the last two years, Illinois has had a law that allows people who are in prison and are dying of a terminal illness or are physically disabled the opportunity to petition for compassionate release. However, few of the releases are granted. 

(WTTW News)

More than half of IDOC inmates serving a life sentence are 55 or older. Caring for an aging prison population is a costly endeavor, advocates say, and the health care elderly prisoners do receive often falls short. That’s why some are calling for a new parole system.

(WTTW News)

In 1978, Illinois shifted from an indeterminate to a determinate sentencing system — effectively eliminating parole as most people are familiar with it. Now some advocates are calling for changes to allow inmates over 55 the chance to be paroled.

Myla Martinez, 6-year-old, enthusiastically greets her mother Crystal Martinez as she and her four younger siblings spend time her with her during a special visit at Logan Correctional Center, Saturday, May 20, 2023, in Lincoln, Illinois. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

The number of incarcerated women in the United States dropped by tens of thousands because of COVID-19. But as the criminal justice system returns to business as usual and prison populations creep back to pre-pandemic norms, more children are being separated from their mothers.